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The Quiet One

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The Quiet One

Published 1948
Topics Documentary

You can find more information regarding this film on its IMDb page.

Audio/Visual sound, b&w


Reviewer: Dr Feel Rotten - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 5, 2011
Subject: This is very moving
I grew up loved, but around lots of kids unloved. A few yrs back while raising my kids I meet a kid bitter and hateful nobody would allow near their homes. I couldn't stand him because of names he called me for no reason. Everyone said to stay away from him and one night about 3 am I saw him sitting on my curb so I went out to talk.. His mother was a drunk prostitute never home, his sister looked after him, but never cared so we talked about why he was so mean and I learned that he didn't understand that you don't get friends by being rotten to them. So we talked till day light and beyond till his sister finally showed up to get him and over the next few weeks i saw him bit by bit sitting on porches having ice cream, laughing and making new friends who used to hate him and one day he knocked on my door and said thank you. I'll never forget that kid..He reminds me so much of Donald.
The hell of it is that the state would do nothing for him so it was left up to our neighborhood and he turned out OK after all no thanks to his mother and sister. I guess he took ownership of his life. It does happen, but someone has to explain the rules and how it works. You don't need a "liberal heart" to want a poor kid to be loved. You just need a heart period. It's not really all that tough.
Reviewer: sciwriter - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 11, 2007
Subject: Easy to identIfy with characters
Film reminds me disadvantaged kids I met while growing up in Bronx, NY.
Reviewer: Hptv22 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 29, 2006
Subject: Problems with downloading
I'm also having difficulty downloading this (an d a few other) files. After downloading a few meg, it stops and gives a "connection reset by peer" error. Can anyone help with this? Thanks.
Reviewer: haku78 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 28, 2006
Subject: problem with the MPEG2 file
I tried to download this brilliant film several time in its original format, but I failed. No program can define the file length and when I try to use
a downloading program (e.g., NetVampire) there's an I/O error message,
the 99,9% downloaded file is deleted and the dl process restarts. Can
you please check out the problem?
Reviewer: jimelena - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 19, 2005
Subject: Good movie
Man, what a good movie.
You have to see it.
Reviewer: MrMovie - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 13, 2005
Subject: Outstanding
There is not much I can add to the previous review except to say that this is a must see!
After viewing this outstanding documentary feature, there is no doubt that the awards it was nominated for were truly deserved. I'm amazed that this film is not listed as one of the most socially significant films of the 20th Century.
Reviewer: Souldogs - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 17, 2005
Subject: More thought-provoking today,
Most remarkable that this film goes unremarked here, as well as at the IMDB. Consider the notice it received on release:

Among the 10 Best Films, 1948-49 New York Times
Best Documentary Feature nominee, 1948 Academy Awards
Best Story and Screenplay nominee, 1949 Academy Awards
Best Picture nominee, 1949 National Board of Review

While the scenario was shot without sound and in documentary style by the producers, film critic and novelist James Agee (best known for "The African Queen" and his autobiographical "A Death In The Family") wrote the characters' dialogue and narration for this film, making this something of a hybrid between fiction and documentary.

Though it features a "cast list" for its principal roles in the opening credits, the Academy chose to treat the film as a documentary; the writing nomination named only the producers, and not Agee's contribution.

The "All-Movie Guide" says this:

"The Quiet One relates, in semidocumentary fashion, the inner workings of the Wiltwyck School for Boys at Esopus, New York. The nonprofessional cast is headed by Donald Thompson as emotionally disturbed youth Donald Peters. Under the compassionate ministrations of a psychiatric counselor (Clarence Cooper, a real-life Wiltwyck counselor), Donald recalls the various traumatic events that have led up to his present troubled state.

"Though the film's dialogue sounds spontaneous, it was pre-scripted by critic James Agee, who also narrates the film [Wrong: the narration is credited to Gary Merrill, and oldtimers like me will certainly recognize Merrill's voice].

"Of particular interest to modern viewers is the fact that Donald Thompson is black. Unlike other 'socially conscious' films of the late 1940s, The Quiet One does not make Donald's race an issue in the proceedings; he is simply a disturbed young boy in need of sympathetic treatment."

I'd argue a couple of points in the last graf. I doubt very much if Donald's race is of more importance to viewers today than it was to those who comprised the film's contemporary audiences. Modern audiences will probably be much more mindful of the fact that the filmmakers documenting this black child's life are white.

Secondly, ignoring the politics of race in a film such as this is not a strength; such an approach only substitutes an unconscious (and certainly unintended) patronization.

While The Quiet One's racial politics are unspoken, they certainly do exist. Exactly what these politics are is something the viewer must decide.

But I wonder: does anyone on earth know or care what became of the young boy featured in this "10 Best of 1948" film?

So much for the constancy of the liberal heart.
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